Nahj al-Balaghah for Children
Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly (Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran, 1994)
Welcome to the Nahj al-Balaghah, the world of Imam Ali, may peace be upon him.
Here is a small selection from the great collection of speeches, sermons, letters, and sayings of the Imam, next only to the Quran in its beauty. This work [Nahjul Balagha], which is one of the masterpieces of Arabic prose, is difficult to translate, especially for a children's book. Yet we have tried to select the simplest of its passages, which can be useful for children. These small passages, together with the illustrations, are a small window into the great world of Imam Ali, peace be on him, who was the most perfect of human beings after the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his Household.
He made the creation
without any example and without the
advice of a counsel
or the assistance of a helper.
He created the earth and
retained it without support,
made it stand without legs,
and raised it without pillars.
He brought out the creation
by His power
and made the winds blow
With His compassion.
Then He decorated the heavens
with the stars and the light of the
meteors and set the shining sun and the
bright moon in an orbit that rolls around.
Praise be to Allah
when the night falls
and praise be to Allah
when the stars shine and set.
the sun and the moon,
the plants and the trees,
the water and the stones,
at the alteration of day and night,
the gush of the oceans,
the great number of the mountains
and the height of their peaks,
at the difference of languages
and the variety of tongues.
Look at the ant
with its small body
and delicate form.
See how it crawls on the earth
and leaps at its livelihood.
It carries the grain to its hole
and stores it in its storage.
It collects during the summer for the winter,
and during strength for the period of its weakness.
Glorified is Allah
who has given feet
to the ant and the gnat,
and created those bigger than them,
the fishes and the elephants.
If you wish,
I will tell you about the locust.
Allah gave it two red eyes,
with pupils like two moons,
made its small ears,
opened for it a suitable mouth,
and gave it a keen sense.
He gave it two front teeth to cut with
and two sickle - like feet
to grip with.
The birds are subject to His
He knows the number of their feathers
and the count of their breaths.
He has made their feet stand on water
and on land.
He knows all their species.
There is the crow,
and the eagle,
and the ostrich.
The most amazing among them
is the peacock in its creation,
which Allah has created
in the finest harmony
and arranged its hues
in the best composition,
with wings well tacked together
and a long trailing tail.
An example of His delicate product,
a marvel of His creation,
and a sample of His profound wisdom,
is what we see in the bat,
which shrinks from the daylight,
although daylight moves everything else
and is active in the night,
although the night stops the activity
of every other living being.
God is aware of the cries
of the beasts in the forests,
of the sins of the people in private,
of the movements of the fishes
in deep oceans,
and the uproar of the waters
by strong winds.
Every thing submits to Him,
and everything exists by Him.
He is the recourse of every poor,
the honour of the lowly,
the might of the weak,
and the comfort of the grieved.
He hears the speech of every speaker,
and knows the secret thoughts of
one who keeps silent.
He provides the livelihood of every living thing,
and to Him returns everything that dies.
the receiver of the Psalms
and the reciter of the dwellers of paradise, used to make
baskets of palm leaves
with his own hands,
and he would say to his companions,
"Which of you will help me sell them?"
He ate bread made of barley
bought with that money.
"O my Lord, surely I have need of
whatever good you may send
down upon me."
And by God,
he asked Him only for bread to eat,
because he used to eat herbs
of the earth
and the greenness of the herbs
could be seen
under the skin of his belly
due to his leanness!
I will tell you about Jesus,
son of Mary.
he had a stone for his pillow,
wore coarse dress,
and ate rough food.
His lamp at night was the moon,
and the earth's vast expanse east and
west, his roof during winter.
His dessert and relish were
what grows on the earth for cattle.
His feet were his means of transport
and his two hands his servant.
Then Allah sent Muhammad, may God
Bless him and his Household,
as a witness,
a bearer of good tidings,
and a warner.
the best of the creation as a child,
and the most chaste amongst them
as a grown up,
the purest of the pure in conduct,
and the most generous of those
who are approached for their
the people of Arabia
Allah sent Muhammad, may Allah bless
him and his Household, as a warner for
all the worlds,
and as the trustee of His revelation,
while you, the people of Arabia,
followed the worst of creeds
and were the most ill placed.
You lived amongst harsh rocks
and venomous serpents.
You drank muddy water
and ate coarse food.
You shed each others blood
And broke the ties of kinship.
Idols stood amongst your midst
And sins held you in their bondage.
Allah sent Muhammad
so that He may take out His people
from the worship of idols
towards His worship
and from obeying Satan
towards obeying Him.
the holy prophet
Follow your Prophet, the best of the
good and purest of pure, may
God bless him and his Household.
He is the example for one to follow,
and comfort for one
who seeks happiness.
The most beloved of servants to God
is one who follows His Prophet
and walks in his footsteps.
He, may God bless him and his
would sit on the ground
when eating food,
and he would sit like a slave.
He would mend his shoes with his own
and patched his clothes himself.
When the Revelation descended on the
Prophet, may God bless him and his
Household, I heard a wailing cry.
I said: "O messenger of Allah,
what is this wailing?"
"This is Satan, who has lost
all hope of being worshipped.
O Ali, you see what I see,
and you hear what I hear,
only that you are not a prophet.
But you are a minister
and on the path of virtue."
The example of the Household of Muhammad
is like the stars of the heaven:
when one stars sets
another one rises.
The riser has risen,
the sparkler has sparkled,
the appearer has appeared.
Allah has replaced
one people with another.
We awaited these changes
as the famine stricken await the rain.
Certainly the Imams are
the vicegerents of Allah
over his creatures,
and they make people know Allah.
No one will enter Paradise,
except he knows them
and they know him…..
Certainly the Quran
is wonderful in its outward form,
and its inner meanings
To them (the Household of the Prophet)
pertain the noblest of human virtues
described in the Quran,
and they are the treasures of the
When they speak, they speak the truth,
but when they keep quiet,
no one can out strip them.
The leader should speak truthfully to his people,
and put all his intelligence to work.
He should be one of those who work for
the next world,
because he has come from there
and would return to it.
the Tree of Prophethood
We are the tree of Prophethood,
the place of descent
of Divine revelation,
the place of frequenting
of the angels,
and the mainsprings of knowledge.
Those who help us and love us
await (God's) mercy,
and those who regard us
with enmity and hatred
await to be subdued
(by the Almighty's power
a Lamp in the Darkness
Amongst you, I am
like a lamp in the darkness.
Everyone making his way
through the darkness
have to get light from it.
a grain of barley
were I given all the seven heavens
with all they contain
in order that
I may disobey God
by depriving an ant
from the husk of a grain of barley,
I would not do it.
two loaves of bread
You should know that
your Imam has settled for
two worn pieces of clothing
out of the (comforts of the) world,
and two loaves of bread for his meal.
The annihilation of the world
after bringing it into being
is no stranger than its
origination and creation.
How can it be so?
For even if all its living beings,
birds and beasts,
the animals of the stable and the
all the genera and species of beings,
the dull and the intelligent of the world's
-were all of them together try
to create a mosquito,
they will be incapable
of bringing it into being,
and will not know
how it has been created.
Today is the day of preparation
and Tomorrow is the day of the contest.
The finishing point is Paradise,
and those who fail to reach it will
land in hellfire.
the earth's produce
Certainly, Allah makes His creatures
suffer when they do evil works,
by diminishing the earth's produce,
by holding back the blessings,
and by blocking the sources of benefit,
so that those who wish to repent may repent
You should know
that every action is the fruit of a tree.
A tree cannot go without water,
and water is of various kinds.
A tree that receives good water,
and its fruit is sweet.
A tree that grows on bad water
is vicious, and its fruit bitter.
One who sees with his heart,
and acts with insight,
considers before doing anything
whether his action would
be to his benefit or harm.
If it is beneficial for him,
he performs it,
but if it is harmful,
he refrains from it.
off the road
One who acts without knowledge
is like one who walks off the road.
Then his deviating from the clear path
takes him farther and farther away from
But one who acts with knowledge
is like one who walks on the clear path.
Therefore, one should see
whether he is moving forward
towards his goal or going backwards.
the Spring of hearts
Learn the Quran,
for it is the most splendid of all speech;
and become learned in it,
for it is the spring of the hearts.
Cure yourselves with its light,
for it is a remedy for sick hearts.
Recite it in the best manner,
for it is the fairest of accounts.
Commit yourselves to prayer
and be watchful over it.
Pray as much as you can
and seek nearness to God through it.
the Sacred House
Allah has made obligatory upon you
the pilgrimage (Hajj)
to His sacred house,
which is the qiblah
is one of the gateways of Paradise
which Allah has opened
for the elect among His friends.
Remember that wood of the tree
which grows in the desert
has the strongest fibres,
while the luxuriant greenery
has the softest barks.
The bushes of the desert
make an enduring fuel,
Whose fire is slow in dying off.
O God, send out for us Your rains,
Your provision, and your mercy,
and give us water in a measure
that would benefit us, satiates our thirst,
and makes the land green with grass,
wherewith all that has withered may grow,
and come to life all that has died,
a rain which brings abundance,
produces plenty of fruits,
watering the plains,
flooding the valleys,
dressing the trees with foliage,
and bringing the prices down.
Surely You are able to do whatever
[Source: Nahj al-Balaghah, (collection of wisdom of Imam Ali), by Sayyid Razi]